To understand the stop and frisk policy, one must go back to the 1968 decision in Terry v. Ohio, the U.S. The Supreme Court ruled that police could stop and frisk a citizen based on ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a crime had been committed. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state of Ohio and the Cleveland police, who conducted a “stop-and-frisk” of a suspect named Terry. The Court held that the limited search that occurred in this case was an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth Amendment right to privacy because the “stop” was conducted with reasonable suspicion that the suspect was involved in criminal activities and the “frisk” was conducted with reasonable cause to believe that the suspect was armed and required a protective pat-down. The Court’s holding distinguished a “stop-and-frisk” from a “search incident to a lawful arrest”, noting that a “search incident to a lawful arrest” would require the elevated standard of probable cause to conduct an arrest a form of seizure. This departed from the time-honored standard of ‘probable cause. An officer on an 8-hour shift rarely uses stop and frisk practices. Due to the 4th amendment police officers were unable to stop, frisk and search individuals. Officers needed probable cause (over 50 percent certainty that the person was guilty of a crime or about to commit one) in order to stop and frisk an individual. After many complaints from officers that the standard is too high, the courts lowered the standard to reasonable suspicion which is a 15 % chance of certainty.
The policy is intended to diminish crime and rid the streets of guns and other deadly weapons. Research will be conducted to investigate how efficacious the policy was and still is today. Two administrations will be analyzed and discussed, one where the policy was heightened and also one where the policy was much more suppressed. The crime rates at both periods will be compared to measure how effective this policy works. It is predicted that with the policy being heightened, the crime and weapons will decrease. Research will cover all aspects of the policy and its effects on society. Various cases will be reviewed and with the use of both qualitative and quantitative data the research will determine the efficacy of the policy. A few biases were seen in the execution of the policy which will be discussed (Race and class bias). At the conclusion of this research the reader will be fully enlightened on all aspects of the policy including the pros, the cons and the biases.